Friends of the South End Library Hold Annual Meeting

Neighbors and friends packed into a small meeting room in the South End Library on January 31, to take part of the annual Friends of the South End Library (FOSEL) meeting.

There, members participated in electing new board members and received an update on the upcoming programming such as the South End Writes and the Play Reading Book Club with Arts Emerson.

After years of delay, there was also an update on the much-needed South End Library renovations to both the interior and park outside.

“Efforts to renovate the library has been going on for 10 years now,” said Marleen Nienhuis, the president of FOSEL.

Delays happened when the past Mayor Thomas Menino talked about closing a third of the public libraries throughout Boston. After fighting to keep them open and a change in leadership at the Boston Public Libraries Nienhuis believes they can go ahead with their plans.

“But, the problem is that the system has many neglected libraries,” said Nienhuis. “Some libraries are in even worse shape than this one.”

This project, which is still in the works has not gotten full approval or funding yet, hopes to re-work the function of the library. 

Right now Nienhuis said, the library has about 6,000 square feet of space but only about 4,000 square feet is being utilized. 

The new design that is still in the works hopes to re-work the current layout to be more spacious and open. They hope to include a designated teen section and separate the adult section more from the children’s section.

In addition, they would like to start services such as job training, public health, and social services, for the many homeless people who frequent the library during the day.

Nienhuis said that they also hope to work with the Boston Parks Department to re-design the park attached to the library. Right now they have problems with loitering and unwanted activities. The new design she hopes will have a patio, wifi access, and a reading space.

In order to fund this, Nienhuis hopes to start a private and public partnership. The total cost of the renovations she expects will be about $200,000. About $150,000 will come from the City and the reminder will be privately raised by FOSEL.

The first phase of the project is expected to begin in 2019.

“The library is so well-centered, in a great location,” said Nienhuis who said that the South End continues to expand. “But this is really the only community space. It’s important that we enlarge it and make it useful to the community.”

Membership to join FOSEL is anywhere from $15 to $500. They will accommodate to whatever you can afford. You can learn more about the upcoming events by visiting

Voting Board now includes the following:

Three officers starting the second year of their two-year term

Marleen Nienhuis, president
Ed Hostetter, Clerk
Barbara Sommerfeld, treasurer 

Three current directors, to serve a second one-year term
Marilyn Davillier
Jeanne Pelletier
Michelle Laboy

Two current directors, appointed mid-year 2016, to serve a one-year term
Maura Harrington
Jon Santiago 

One current FOSEL advisory board member, to serve a one-year term
Kim Clark

FOSEL Advisory Board Includes:
Adam Castiglioni
Susanna Coit
Liane Crawford
Don Haber
Stephen Fox
Jacqueline L. McGrath
Mary Owens
Mari Passananti
Lois Russell
Licia Sky
Anne Smart
Karen Watson

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